Saturday, September 11, 2010
Getting settled in: Aug. 29-Sept. 4
So, we are getting settled in. On Sunday (which is not our Sabbath here, but like our Saturday), we took the kids into the Old City for the first time. That is a lot of walking for those little folks (Jacob fell asleep in my arms during the long walk and steep hike on the way back). They got to see a bit of what it is like in the Old City. We didn't do much, just went to get something to eat, told them a bit about the place, and came back. They seemed to have a good day. Then we got them all ready for their first day of school.
We went with them to the first day of school. It was good we did. Poor Kaleb didn't think about it, and left his backpack (with his lunch, etc. in it) in the taxi that took them there. We were able to track it down for him and get it back to him before school started. Everyone seemed to figure out where to go, and seemed happy to be there. It turned out that they had a great day. It was Sabrina's first day of school, and she said she had the best day of her life.
When we finished that, Jacob and Julianne came with the faculty on a little field trip. I had arranged for some good people I know who are excavating at Jaffa to show us the excavation site. So we drove to Jaffa and had a great time getting a personal tour of the place. Julianne seemed to really enjoy seeing everything, and Jacob was most fascinated by the cave full of the biggest bats I have ever seen. There were a ton of them. We got to go into the lab, play with the pottery and equipment, see the Egyptian gate, etc. Cool day!
Tuesday a bunch of us, including Julianne and Jacob, went on a field trip preparation tour. We are planning on taking the students on a walk through various parts of the old city, and then into the Western part of town, the day after they get here. We want to both show them around, and teach them about history, etc. So everyone who was going to do it went on the walk. Jacob was a little trooper. We had a great time, and I think every person learned something they didn't know by the time we were done. We had a few minutes on Ben Yehuda street when we were done, a very nice pedestrian street in downtown Jerusalem. Jacob had fallen asleep by then. We are really wearing that boy out.
The next day we did another field trip prep, for when we will take the students around and show them all over Jerusalem and the surrounding areas, so they can get a feel for the place geographically. Julianne and Jacob came again. They seemed to have a great time, and I think Julianne is loving being able to learn so much and participate so much. As part of it we climbed to the top of Augusta Victoria tower, the highest point on the Mt. of Olives. There are 225 steps, and Jacob climbed them all. Later that day I went on a bus to the airport, and along with Jeff Chadwick picked up 59 students. It took a while to get them all out and make sure we had all our stuff, but we got them loaded on and brought them in. I gave them just a bit of a tour on the way in to town. They were exhausted, they had been through a crazy flight. Meanwhile, Julianne was back at the Center giving some students a tour of the center with the help of all our kids. Then we took the whole family to have dinner with the students. The kids were pretty good, but it was a bit of an adventure. I spent a little time with the students that night telling them what I hoped they would get out of being in Jerusalem. They were exhausted, but seem like a great group.
The next day I lead a group of about seven students on the walking tour of the old and new city, and Julianne also led a group of the same size. We stuck close by each other, and ran into each other a few times and used each other as resources. It was fun to do it together, and really, really exciting to see how much the students are amazed to actually be here, and to see them drinking it all in. This is going to be a lot of fun.
Meanwhile, most of the kids seem to be having a great experience at the Anglican School. They really seem to enjoy it, and it really seems to be a great school. Sabrina seems to be in a little over her head, which is partially our fault but mostly the fault of her being put in an age group we were not prepared for her to be in. We are starting to think about not having her in school.
Friday was the first day I actually taught a class. It was exciting and fun. These students are thirsty, and it is great to be with them. What a sharp bunch. The kids got home from school early, since it is Friday in Jerusalem, and we had some good times with them, and met with some of our student committees to make sure they knew what they should do. It is really starting to be busy around here.
Finally, on Saturday we had church. It was great, we are blessed to be able to go to church here. What an incredible place to have Sacrament Meeting. It is so great to look at the places the Savior was as I partake of the sacrament. Today I was sustained as the Young Men's president and Scoutmaster, while Julianne was sustained as a primary teacher. The kids seemed to enjoy their classes, and are loving being here. Julianne and I went with Frank and Jill Judd (the other family here is the Judds) to the Garden Tomb in the afternoon and had some nice contemplative time there.
Julianne has really started to learn her way around town, and is getting pretty good at being able to shop here. It is a lot of work to be able to figure out shopping prices in a different currency, and figure out what to buy with different foods and the labels in a language you can't read, but she is magnificent.
We decided to pull Sabrina out of school. The place we live is wonderful, they have set it all up so well, and we are receiving so much support. It is all turning out better than we could hope for. The kids are still crazy, and I am still mean, and Juilanne still wonderful, and we are feeling so blessed to be here.